Japanese entertainment firms flock to Thailand

Japanese entertainment firms flock to Thailand
A general view of the business district in Tokyo.

With the strong support of the Japanese government under the Cool Japan initiative, Tokyo-based music and entertainment companies are aggressively seeking Thai partners in a bid to cash in on the emerging digital TV sector in the Kingdom ahead of full ASEAN economic integration next year.

The push has resulted in the Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro) joining forces with the Foundation for Promotion of Music Industry and Culture, the International Drama Festival in Tokyo and the Japan National Tourism Organisation to hold a three-day event called "Japan Weekend".

The event - which concluded yesterday - promoted music, TV series and tourism in Japan with the aim of securing business partners in Thailand.

Seven major TV broadcasters, including NHK, and leading content producers showed up. The content promoted included the most famous Japanese TV series, Hanzawa Naoki, Doctor X, Aibo and Hanako To An.

Miyako Hamano, Jetro's executive vice president, told The Nation that it was the first time in the organisation's 55-year history that it had held an event to promote Japanese cultural products to a Thai audience.

Hamano said that Jetro saw huge potential in the Thai broadcasting market, particularly after the country welcomed 24 digital terrestrial TV channels.

She said this presented a great opportunity for highly experienced music and TV content producers in Japan to export their products to the Thai market.

She stressed that her organisation was willing to support them not only in Thailand but also in the ASEAN region.

Last month, Jetro invited Thai companies RS, Fresh Air Festival, GMM One TV and Sahamongkol Film International to join the Japan Content Showcase 2014 in Tokyo in bid to match them with Japan's leading music, TV and film producers.

In addition to this aggressive action, Hajime Shigemura, vice president and executive producer at the International Drama Festival in Tokyo, said that after a year of working hard with local partners in ASEAN countries, leading broadcasters and content producers in Japan were ready for nine big projects in the region.

"Thailand is the most active market among ASEAN countries with three projects, followed by Malaysia with two projects while there is one each in the Philippines, Indonesia, Myanmar and Vietnam," Shigemura said.

For the projects in the Kingdom, Fuji Television will team up with Bangkok Broadcasting and Television - the operator of Channel 7 - to jointly produce a TV show about cross-play competition and relevant tip sharing. The project will start next year.

Meanwhile, MCOT - the operator of Modernine TV - is partnering Asahi TV to jointly produce a travel programme named Deep Japan.

Workpoint Entertainment is working with various music companies in Japan to produce a music show for its Workpoint Creative TV digital channel.

Shigemura, who is also director of the Broadcast Programme Export Association of Japan, said that to make those deals happen his association had provided Bt100 million (S$4 million) in financial support, and it expected more deals to be inked in the near future.

The Japanese government is also focusing on attracting Thai tourists to the country. To boost tourist arrivals from Thailand, last year the government waived the visa requirement for Thais for 15 days.

The Japan National Tourism Organisation said that from January to September about 430,000 Thais visited the country, a 52-per-cent increase over the same period last year.

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